It is the middle of November and it’s time for Mary’s annual report about Christmas gifts purchased.
She texts: “Alan and I have started shopping, and yours is the first gift we bought! How’s your shopping going?”
I chuckle. Her tone of satisfaction is apparent, but I’m ready: “Shopping? Check! Mary’s gift? Done!” I grin and send the message.
Looking over at the dining table, our staging area for gifts awaiting
their holiday packaging, I smile; the large box with the bright photo of exotic colorful succulent plants will be a good surprise for my puzzle-happy daughter. No doubt, the 1000-piece jigsaw will be completed before New Year’s Day. She is a whiz at putting together puzzles, the more challenging, the better. I wonder
if I’ve told her that she comes from a long line of jigsaw experts?
My pawpaw had a portable card table that appeared from time to time beside his chair in the living room. The chair is where he sat weeknights to watch the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite
and on Sunday afternoon to cheer on Archie Manning as he quarterbacked the then-dismal New Orleans Saints. He used the table to piece together the most complex jigsaw puzzles. He pulled the table close to his chair, studied the picture of the puzzle on the box, and then he laboriously turned every piece right-side up on the table, pushing the pieces to one side. His glasses pulled down
the bridge of his nose, he studied every piece and aligned them, interlocking the shapes together to form the border first. The venture sometimes took weeks, but he was relentless until the
final piece was placed into the puzzle. Pawpaw’s commitment to the task was admirable.
Sitting with Pawpaw during his leisure puzzle hours, he talked to me with his eyes traveled over the pieces, searching for the right ones. I wonder if he sorted by shape or color? I never asked, but now it occurs to me that I look first at shape while Mary looks first for color.
My grandfather’s legacy goes far beyond his jigsaw puzzle acumen, but the story adds to my recollections of his impact on my life. His dedication and commitment to every task to which he set his hands are cornerstones of my learning to be faithful in the small ways that fit together to form a good life.
The great themes of the Bible are about God; after all, it is His story. The historical books profile His commitment, faithfulness, mercy, and love. Although the book’s stories center around many subthemes like conquest, deliverance, judgment, unification, and
preservation, His intention to redeem His creation never falters; He is long-suffering and kind. In the book of Ruth, God’s provision to redeem Naomi and Ruth foreshadows His plan to redeem both Jew and Gentile—illuminating the path to eternal life through Jesus.
The books of the Old Testament amplify this intention. The stories
reveal God’s desire for close relationship with His creation: the Garden, the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle, the Temple—all pointing to the Messiah of the New Testament who came to us as a baby born in Bethleham. He is relentless in the pursuit.
Paul captures, in his letter to the Philippians, God’s dedication to His task. Paul writes, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ
Jesus appears” (Phil 1:6). God intended to accomplish His work
in those of the church at Philippi, and He intends to do so for those of us today and for all who will come. He is committed to fitting all
the pieces together—to accomplish His redemptive will, for His glory.
I hope one of those packages with my name under the tree is a great big puzzle. I feel the need to pull over a card table next to my own chair, spread out the multitude of jigsaw shapes, and watch the picture come together. Maybe Mary will have some time and we can work on it together. Pawpaw would be pleased.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children